How Nerve Cells Work
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understanding of how the neuron (the basic functional cell of the nervous
system) works is
fundamental to all processes such as sensation, perception, memory, emotion, cognition, etc., in
health and in disease.
In this article,
the second of a series on the fundamentals of the neuron, you will learn
ions, the cell membrane and basic processes, such as diffusion and ion transport, generate one of
its basic and most important characteristics, the resting membrane potential.
The resting membrane
potential is a stable electrical charge of approximately -65 to -70 milivolts
the internal side (inside the cell) in relation to the external side. It is the basis of bioelectricity, that is,
the generation and use of electrical energy by excitable cells such as the neuron to perform its
functions of storage and transmission of information.
The last article
of the series, in the next issue, will explain how neurons actively transmit
by means of the action potential. The action potential is a sudden and reversible depolarization
(reversal of the membrane potential value) which propagates across the dendrites and axon of a
Water and Membranes
2. Movement of Ions: Diffusion and Membranes
3. Movement of Ions: Electrical Charge
4. Resources on the Internet
Next issue: How Nerve Cells Work. Part II
Silvia Helena Cardoso, PhD. Psychobiologist, master and doctor in Sciences. Editor-in-chief of Brain & Mind. State University of Campinas, Brazil.
Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD. director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Chairman of Medical Informatics of the Medical School of the State University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil.
André Malavazzi Designer
Estadual de Campinas
An initiative: Center for Biomedical Informatics
Published on 25.July.1999